How to turn a PC into a TV

Yes! It’s possible to turn your PC into a TV, and this new edition of our blog will tell you exactly how you can start viewing!

This blog was updated in June 2022.

TV streaming services, On-Demand content, and TV tuners are now more popular than ever. Subscriptions to services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, On Demand TV from the likes of BBC and C4, and online streaming services like Twitch have all contributed to a huge swing in consumer viewing habits.

Many people are now forsaking the scheduled TV lifestyle for On-Demand programs, live streaming, and specialist content, paving the way for internet-enabled TV and entertainment through desktop PCs and powerful laptops.

And as PC monitors become larger, cheaper, and better in quality many people are migrating from the traditional TV set up to a multiple-use computer. But how do you go about turning a PC into a TV? Can you use a monitor as a TV?

If you want to watch your favourite shows on the big screen instead of at your desk, here’s how to connect a PC to a TV. 

Using internet TV

Image by: BBC iPlayer

To start, the easiest way to get live TV on your PC is to stream it directly from the internet. You can do this by simply connecting to a website like the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, or even Sky if you’re subscribed. You can even get generic Freeview on a computer if you so desire.

Most of the major TV stations offer services like this, BBC, ITV, C4, etc., but be mindful of geographical restrictions. Paid for services like Sky, Virgin, and BT also offer great streaming packages, however, a subscription is usually needed to even access Freeview TV on a PC.

Making use of a PC TV tuner

Alternatively, If you’re looking for a more permanent hardware fix to watch Freeview on a computer, or you don’t have great internet access to begin with, then a PC TV tuner is a great way of getting around any dodgy Wi-Fi signal.

PC tuners come in many different forms but are basically a physical plug-in that allows a cable or portable antenna to be connected to your laptop for easy TV viewing.

TV-tuners are peripherals which can connect externally via USB or internally via PCI. This gives you the ability to watch Freeview TV on a PC. You can get a few different types of tuners, from external units to internal combined graphics cards or standalone cards.

However, quality and signal will fluctuate massively with different devices, setups, regions, and even locations. Internal cards are usually considered better quality, but they do require setup and sacrifice the portability bonus that comes with a plug-in.

When you’re hooked up, the PC tuner will usually come with some manufacturer-specific software to install. This will then become the platform for your PC’s TV planner, where you can select and control the channels you watch.

Utilise a Freeview box

This one is a simple option for utilizing a bit of old tech you might have lying around the house, the humble Freeview box.

If you find yourself with a spare one of these boxes, or you can pick them up for about £30, the process of using them to watch Freeview TV on PC is very easy, as long as you have a free HDMI port on your computer.

Simply plug your Freeview into the empty HDMI connector and hook the aerial up to either a portable antenna or the wall mount. Power up, adjust your setting and find the input, then away you go, and there you have it, Freeview on a laptop or PC!

You can also find a few miniature Freeview boxes on the market so the unit won’t add too much bulk to your PC rig while keeping everything nice and tidy.

Make use of streaming platforms

OK, this one is cheating a little as it’s not live TV or Freeview on a laptop, but if you find yourself binging on Netflix rather than the BBC, streaming players are a great option for cheap On Demand television.

One of the market leaders is Chromecast, which is a mirroring device. It broadcasts content “cast” from your connected devices, like a laptop, tablet, or phone, effectively turning them into the media player and remote and beaming the video to your monitor

The advantage of this setup is that it feels a lot more like a TV, rather than a computer as you have a ‘remote’ in hand to flick through content as and when you please.

How to connect a PC to a TV

Lastly, if all you want to do is use your monitor as your TV, then you can just hook your PC up to your TV. How do you do this? Why by using the humble HDMI cable of course!

Provided your TV has an HDMI port, which almost all modern TVs have, all you need to do is connect an HDMI lead between your PC and your TV and you’re good to go.

Of course, with the invention of smart TVs, the need to connect your laptop or PC to your TV is somewhat redundant. You can read all about the capabilities of smart TVs in our article on what is a smart TV?

PCs and TVs at Ebuyer

If you want to set your PC up as a TV, then head over to the Ebuyer store now where we have a wide range of options to help you facilitate exactly that. You can also visit the Ebuyer blog and knowledge hub for more useful articles like this one!

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